Backgrounder: Bill S-9 tackling auto theft and property crime act
Trafficking in (or "fencing") property obtained by crime is a complex criminal industry that moves stolen goods from the initial theft or criminal activity, to often unsuspecting consumers. Trafficking in stolen goods is what makes property crime profitable, and is a key means of financing organized crime.
Trafficking in stolen cars and auto parts is a particular form of property crime that carries serious economic and public safety costs for Canadians. In 2007 approximately 146 000 vehicles were stolen in Canada; it is estimated these crimes cost Canadians over $1 billion per year.
Organized crime groups tend to participate in auto theft by:
- Operating "chop shops," where stolen vehicles are disassembled and their parts are trafficked to often unsuspecting customers;
- Altering, obliterating, or destroying the vehicle identification number (VIN) of a stolen car. All vehicles in Canada are required to have a VIN in order to clearly distinguish one motor vehicle from another. Criminal car theft rings typically replace the VIN of a stolen vehicle with one from a legitimate vehicle of the same make and model, essentially altering the vehicle's identity; and,
- Exporting stolen high-end sport utility vehicles and luxury sedans.
Auto theft also often results in dangerous driving. High-speed chases compromise the safety of our streets, and pose a significant threat to both citizens and law enforcement in communities across Canada.
Bill S-9: "Tackling Auto Theft and Property Crime Act"
Bill S-9 gives police, border officials, and prosecutors better tools to fight car thieves, particularly organized crime rings by:
- Creating a separate offence of "theft of a motor vehicle", which carries a mandatory prison sentence of 6 months for conviction of a third or subsequent offence when the prosecutor proceeds by indictment;
- Establishing a new offence for altering, destroying or removing a VIN;
- Making it an offence to traffic in property obtained by crime; and,
- Making it an offence to possess such property for the purpose of trafficking.
In addition, these amendments to the Criminal Code provide for the application of customs powers to allow the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to detain suspected stolen property before it is exported from the country, thus addressing the problem of the exportation of stolen vehicles from Canada by organized crime.
For an online version of the legislation, visit www.parl.gc.ca.
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